Thai ambassador foresees minimal fallout from coup

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Thai ambassador foresees minimal fallout from coup

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The JoongAng Daily spoke to Vasin Teeravechyan, the ambassador of Thailand in Korea, about the current situation in Thailand, the nation’s diplomatic relations with Korea, the Korean wave and the recent donation of Thai cultural items to the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies’ Yongin campus. A total of 150 cultural items, worth about 3 million won ($3,175), were donated to the school’s museum, including Thai textiles, ceramics, traditional dolls and photographs.

Q. What are your thoughts regarding the military coup in your country Tuesday night? What kind of effect will it have on the country’s future?
A. It is like a tumor, in that the situation has been under the radar for some time and what happened on Tuesday was inevitable. In a few weeks, the political atmosphere will resume normalcy and a revised constitution will be in the works.
Since the Council of Administrative Reform took power from the government, the situation has been under control. There has been no resistance and no violence. Business is as usual and the daily lives of the people are not affected.

How will this incident affect diplomatic relations between Korea and Thailand?
This incident will certainly not affect current relations between Thailand and Korea. The Council has reaffirmed that Thailand will adhere to the UN Charter and remain committed to international treaties and agreements and the existing relations between Thailand and other countries shall be fostered and enhanced.

Since the tsunami, has Thailand's tourism industry recovered?
Thailand, especially some provinces in its southern part which were affected by the tsunami, has already fully recovered. The number of tourists visiting areas such as Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak has been exceeding that of before the tsunami.

Is the Korean Wave still relevant in Thailand?
The Korean wave still enjoys high popularity in Thailand. There is even a publication of a Thai magazine “Seal Street” reporting about current Korean movies, dramas and songs.

You recently donated Thai cultural items to the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. How did the Thai embassy first get involved in this project?
We were informed by the Thai Department of the university that it planned to set up an International Cultural Museum in the near future to display cultural items of all the countries that are included in the university’s language departments. The embassy considered this a good chance to enhance understanding for students in the Thai department of Thai culture.

Did you choose to come to Korea?
Being assigned to Korea by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs is my great pleasure. Korea was one of my choices. I feel at home staying in Korea. Korean people are, in my view, rather passionate and straightforward in expressing their feelings and opinions.

How has the diplomatic relationship between Korea and Thailand evolved since the Thai embassy first came to Korea?
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Thailand on Oct. 1, 1958, the two countries have continuously developed close political ties and strong bonds of partnership. At present, the two countries have 20 agreements as tools for the promotion of national defense, trade, investment, tourism, etc. Also, this tie is reflected by the significant visits to Korea of the members of the Thai royal family, the prime minister, and cabinet ministers, as well as visits to Thailand by the president, cabinet ministers and the speaker of the National Assembly of Korea.

How are trade relations between the two countries at the moment?
Trade between Korea and Thailand has increased every year since both countries emerged from financial crises. In 2005, trade between Korea and Thailand reached $6.14 billion, rising from $5.43 billion the previous year. Also, the 816,000 visitors from Korea to Thailand in 2005 reflect the popularity of Thailand as a dream destination for Koreans.


by Cho Jae-eun

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